Written by Chris Roberson, Art by Dennis Culvur, Colored by Stephen Downer, Lettered by John J. Hill, Edited by Allison Baker. Published by Monkeybrain Comics. Available from Comixology.

“Edison Rex” is a thinking person’s goofy superhero comic. The flagship of the Monkeybrain line of creator-owned digital comics, it is written by publisher Chris Roberson. Like the rest of the line, it is a short, periodical comic designed to be published around other commitments.

Roberson recently worked on a short and controversial run of Superman comics. Perhaps it is unsurprising that his new work focuses on the death of a Superman-like hero at the hands of his arch nemesis, the eponymous “Edison Rex.” What is surprising is that the climax of their relationship isn’t a titanic brawl. It is a conversation, and it is handled with subtlety and craft.

The hero Valiant arrives at the hideout of the criminal Rex, ready to bring him to justice. Rex doesn’t want to fight, he wants to talk. Roberson and Culvur guide us through the villain’s lair, the two characters’ personal history, and a few interesting science fiction ideas along the way. The dialog feels natural, without getting too deep into ‘as you know’ information dumps, and Culvur’s art prevents the issue from feeling like a talking head sequence. I especially liked the evolving design of Valiant’s costumes, and the expressiveness of his faces. It becomes clear that Rex is seeing the culmination of a plan he didn’t really think would work. These characters really feel like they might be ending decades of comic-book confrontations, rather than appearing in their first issue.

The comic ends with an implied question, which is going to be the backbone for the series: What do you do once you’ve reached your life’s goal? And if that goal is the destruction of the world’s mightiest defender, there might be some problems. It falls to our criminal genius to take up the cause of saving the world.

Edison Rex is a comic that perfectly balances the crafts that have gone into it. The writing, art, and design all compliment each other in a way that would fall flat otherwise. This is the kind of comic that shows just how and why comics work as their own medium, rather than the lesser sibling of film or prose. Rex is a standout comic, with a flawed protagonist that is thought-provoking while still being loads of fun. This is a series to watch.